AUBURN, Ala.—A global shortage of trained professionals in the rapidly growing aquaculture industry is the impetus behind an online training and certification program now available through Auburn University’s Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures.
The program, Certification for Aquaculture Professionals, is a Web-based, multilingual educational curriculum that teaches the fundamentals of aquaculture and sustainable aquaculture production and aims to improve and develop aquaculture to its full potential worldwide, CAP director Antonio Garza de Yta said.
“A lot of people working in aquaculture right now have not had the opportunity to receive formal training in the field,” said Garza, an Auburn fisheries alumnus. “They may be biologists or veterinarians or sometimes even psychologists, but regardless of their formal education, they typically don’t have the technical background needed to serve the aquaculture industry.”
The CAP program consists of 10 learning modules taught by internationally recognized aquaculture authorities, almost all of whom are members of the Auburn fisheries department’s faculty. Subjects covered in the certification program include principles of aquaculture, water quality, physiology, hatchery management, genetics and breeding, aquatic animal nutrition, aquatic health, aquaculture production, aquaculture economics and extension methods.
David Rouse, head of the fisheries and allied aquacultures department, said CAP is for people on the front line of aquaculture.
“It is for people in the government who need to make policy decisions but do not have the background to make good decisions, for extension agents who are working with farmers and for people who studied aquaculture many years ago and need to be updated,” Rouse said. “It also is ideal for those in the aquaculture feed and supply industry and for private industry and farm managers who want to increase their knowledge and understanding of aquaculture.”
The 10 modules include a total of 136, approximately 30-minute-long segments featuring video recordings of trainers’ lectures, slides used for the lectures and lecture transcripts. CAP students can access the modules at any time from anywhere in the world. Each module ends with an exam, and students must make at least 70 percent on the exam to proceed to the next module. The certification program can be completed in about six months, but the program is designed for people who are currently working, Garza said, and thus the timeline will vary.
The CAP program is offered in English and Spanish and soon will be available in Portuguese, French, Chinese and Arabic. Registration for the CAP program ranges from $4,000 for agencies and private enterprises seeking 50 or more certifications to $6,000 for one to four certifications.
Certification is valid for three years, during which time certified professionals have access to a wide range of online CAP services—including a question-and-answer section with input from specialists, open-forum discussions, weekly aquaculture seminars at Auburn and all certification training modules—that can help them continue their professional development.
Recertification is required at the end of three years and can be obtained either through retesting or by taking additional modules that will be offered.
A pilot CAP class began in October 2010 in Mexico and by February 2011, 30 individuals had earned certification, Garza said. CAP training agreements have been finalized or are in the works with governments and corporate clients in Mexico, the U.S., Brazil and several other countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Learn more about Auburn’s CAP program at http://cap.auburn.edu.
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